With a violinist/accordionist that looks like a Bolshevik, a bass player who switches between a stand-up and a Christmas-tree-light adorned tuba, and a Theremin-playing frontman who yodels more than sings, Devotchka is as eccentric as you want them to be, right down to their cover of “Venus in Furs” that makes you think the Velvets could have been from an Eastern Block country.
There is an ethnic, Russian flair to most everything they do, a flair that the crowd of around 220 obviously came to see and hear. Sprinkled throughout the room, girls jumped and kicked in a sad, Americanized version of a Barynya folk dance, complete with obligatory squatting and foot stomps (Most of the guys did the usual immobile slouching, hands in pockets). When the accordion came out and the sousaphone was at full sail, the place turned into a Ukranian dance hall powered by the band’s polka-flavored bounce. On the other hand, when the band took a more-modern less-ethnic approach, they turned into a Hungarian (by way of Denver) version of The Arcade Fire, thanks to the frontman Nick Urata’s yodel croon and the music’s soaring, layered sound, reminiscent of the better moments off Funeral.
I was told that these guys weren’t an indie band. And I might have believed that if it weren’t for drummer Shawn King – who, though surrounded by music played in a foreign language, still cracked the set like a first-rate (indie) rocker. King was astounding, even when he put down the sticks, picked up a trumpet and followed the rest of the band into the crowd for a pseudo-mariachi number. Great fun. I left after an hour, just as the band closed their set with the Morricone-flavored whistler theme from the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack.
Tonight at Sokol Underground, The Black Keys with Brimstone Howl and Dr. Dog. This show was originally scheduled for Sokol Auditorium, but poor ticket sales drove it downstairs. Needless to say, the show is nearly sold out, so if you don’t already have tickets, go to the One Percent Productions site and click on the Purchase Tickets link. They’ll run you $17. If you plan on walking up, I suggest you get in line early (and bundle up, it’s cold outside).
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